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THE    ARTISTIC    LIFE                   289

nature, which characterize Chinese poetry. For the poetic
mood and the picturesque moment are often the same, and
the artist mind which can seize the one and give it form in
poetry can also, with a little cultivation, express the other in

First, we can dismiss the question of perspective, which
puzzles Westerners, by explaining once again that Chinese
pictures are supposed to be painted from a very high mountain*
The perspective one obtains of the world of objects from a
high altitude, say, from an aeroplane flying six thousand feet
above the earth, must be different from the perspective on
the ordinary level. The higher the vantage point, the less, of
course, the lines converge toward a point. This is also visibly
influenced by the oblong shape of Chinese scrolls, which re-
quires a long distance from the foreground at the bottom of
the scroll to the line of the horizon at the top of the scroll.

Like the modern Western painters, the Chinese artists wish
to portray, not reality but their own impressions of reality,
and hence their impressionistic method. The trouble with
Western impressionists is that they are a little too clever and a
little too logical. With all their ingenuity, the Chinese artists
are not able to produce artistic freaks to startle the layman.
The basis of their impressionism is, as has been explained, the
theory that "the conception must precede the using of the
brush." Not the material reality, therefore, but the artist's
conception of the reality is the purport of the painting. They
remember that they are painting for fellow human beings and
the conceptions must be humanly intelligible to others. They
are restrained by the Doctrine of the Golden Mean. Their
impressionism is therefore a human impressionism. In painting
a picture, their object is to convey a unified conception, which
determines what to include and what to leave out, resulting in
the ffungling quality.

Since the conception is of primary importance, the greatest
pains must be taken to conceive a poetic conception. In the
Sung Dynasty, when scholars had competitive examinations
in painting under the Imperial Bureau of Painting, we see how
this consideration of the poetic conception overruled every
other standard. Invariably it was the painting which showed